Air Kraken

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There have been several reports of Air Kraken over New Babbage in recent days. I have yet to view these creatures myself but have seen drawings and photographs. I decided to research the literature on this natural phenomena which was unknown to me before arriving in this time.

I came across this on The Steampunk Forum, written by a Mr. Qubehead…

(Editor’s Notes:

1. The author’s research has not been independently confirmed.

2. Ladies may wish to pass over this article as, while scientific, it is rather graphic.)

“The dreaded Air Kraken, scourge of the steampunk skies, actually begins life in the deep ocean. In its appearance, habits and diet, there is little to distinguish the juvenile kraken from its purely marine cousins. As it approaches maturity however, it begins to change radically. Like other giant squids, the kraken’s flesh is heavily impregnated with ammonia for buoyancy; as it matures, it secretes a catalytic enzyme which reacts the NH3 with H2O to produce gaseous H2, with aqueous HNO3 expelled as waste. The hydrogen gas accumulates very slowly in a bladder in the kraken’s mantle, thus raising it toward the ocean’s surface slowly enough to allow it to adapt to decreasing pressure. As the kraken nears the surface, the pressure change triggers a dramatic increase in production of the catalytic enzyme; all the animal’s remaining NH3 is converted to hydrogen, distending its gas-bladder hugely… and the true ‘air kraken’ takes to the sky, where it will spawn and eventually die. Once airborne, it propels itself by flapping its membranous wings. Its ink glands, deprived of their watery medium, expel their product as an extremely fine smoke-like black dust. The air kraken’s favored aerial habitat is the towering cumulonimbus clouds- they keep its skin moist and make an excellent lurking-place. Scientists remain puzzled as to how the kraken finds nourishment in the skies; they have never been seen low enough to hunt birds, and at higher altitudes there is little prey save the occasional unwary aeronaut. Because of this, it is surmised that air krakens never eat at all after reaching full maturity- like salmon, they ascend only to mate and die. Attacks on zeppelins occur when the kraken mistakes the aircraft for either an eligible female or a rival male. The air kraken’s eggs are mere air-filled balloons, weighted at the bottom by the embryonic animal, which drift gently down into the sea and begins its life cycle anew.”

original source…

http://brassgoggles.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=5583.0

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Fred

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There is a kangaroo in my yard in Ebonshire. He will not leave. Been here for months.

Strangest thing, a kangaroo in these parts! I have named him Fred. “Is he playful?” a friend asks. He doesn’t do much of anything. Looks about, keeps an eye on things I guess. Stands ready to hop about but he never goes far.

I think he must have stowed away on my ship when I came up on a trip from Austral last fall. Only explanation that makes sense. On the other hand, in Winterfell one can never be sure of anything.

The Store

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What have I gotten myself into now?

My brother Levon is in for a visit. He could always talk me into just about anything. I don’t mean to compare him to the carnival barker nor is he the wheeler-dealer type. He is just the nicest man and so damn sincere and so smart when it comes to people and how to “connect” with them that you can not doubt him, you can not argue with him, you can not ignore him, you have no choice but to agree with everything he says. The man has good ideas, that’s all there is to it!

So I told him about my idea for the store. I told him knowing full well he would say something that would change my plan completely. He did. Of course.

It was going to be Whitfield’s Mens Shoppe. Now it will be Whitfield Bros. General Stores. Well, it makes sense. If you heard Levon tell it you would be saying the same thing, believe me.

So we will not just be the place I envisioned – one stop shopping for men. No, we will have ladies items and we will have…everything. “Diversification” he called it. (Yes, he is a time traveller too. In fact, while he was here, we formed the Time Travellers Guild – a group for our brother and sister time jumpers.)

So, my “little” shop where I would make a few sales and mostly just putter and tinker when I needed a “time out” frrom the rest of my life…will now be a bit more. But the best news is that I won’t have to run it! Once I have it set up and going, Levon will manage the day to day. He will be “Vice President of Customer Satisfaction.” He came up with that title. (In my travels it was called the Complaint Dept.) Yes, he will handle all customer inquiries. Well now, how bad can this be? “‘np’ Levon! Go get ’em bro!” (He is not the only time traveller in the family.)

I’ll just sit here, smoke my cigar and count the money.

Storm Due

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A strong hurricane is forecast for New Toulouse this weekend. The storm is expected to make landfall sometime on Friday. I will be checking on my new house in Jardin as often as I can to make sure she holds. If you do not have reason to travel to New Toulouse this weekend, I urge you to stay away for your own safety. However, if you happen to be an explorer or simply the curious type, I suppose you might stop by for a quick peek.

Here you can go to the archives of this publication and read or re-read my account of last year’s hurricane in New Toulouse…

http://dankowhitfield.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/hurricane-adolphe/

Caledon Builds Secret Air Base

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Caledon's secret air base on Mainland

Caledon has secretly built an air base on the Mainland.

By Danko Whitfield, War Correspondent

(DATELINE CENSORED) — While Guv. Desmond Shang of Caledon gives the outward appearance  of calm as if things are
quiet on the war front, this reporter has discovered a clandestine project that will play a key role in the coming hostilities.

I am standing on the landing strip of a secret airbase on the coast of the Mainland continent known as (CENSORED). The base appears to be complete and operational. There were no airships on the base when I visited and I cannot say whether it has been used thus far, whether for scouting flights or training. It could be that the base will sit here quietly until military action is required.

This “lull before the mighty storm,” as one of my sources put it, may in fact be a strategic ploy on the part of the Guv’nah to
cause the enemy to slip into a period of complacency just before Caledon strikes with the element of surprise as an added weapon in its arsenal.

Your correspondent will continue to monitor the situation.

Odds & Ends

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Writing from Laudanum at the end of a foggy day in Winterfell. Most days seem that way lately. The phrase ‘a twilight mist’ comes to mind. That might make a nice title for a future article.

Speaking of writing, after forming the aforementioned group, Danko Whitfield’s Readers on Sunday, Monday brought on another group, the Society of Steamland Bloggers. The mission of this group will be to allow the keepers of journals in the Steamlands to share ideas, ask questions, announce new blogs or new posts. Miss Abigail Raymaker is working with me on this group and has established a blog for the group itself. Once we have things set up and ready to serve members we will make a formal announcement to the public. This should come within the next week or two. In the meantime, interested bloggers can go ahead and join the group. If you write about the Steamlands or if you blog about something else but live in the Steamlands, this is the group for you! Even inactive bloggers should join as you may be able to use your past experience to help others. This is my personal invitation to you to join us. Thanks.

I spent a day in New Toulouse last week with a full agenda. I started by checking on my house in Jardin and then headed up to Algiers for a pint at Le Vieux Canal Jazz Club, which as all my friends know is one of my favorite spots. I had a nice conversation with the head bartender, Jean Lafitte about his privateer days. The man can talk, I must say! Then it was off to Miz Gabi’s tea in Bourbon for the latest community news and discussion. Nice to see everyone as always. Following the meeting I conferred with Addison Greymyst, the New Toulouse Ambassador to Winterfell, and gave him a tour of Winterfell’s embassy in Bourbon.

Saturday I was at Lady Twilight’s town hall meeting in Winterfell Anodyne. Because of scheduling conflicts I had not been to one of these monthly sessions in some time. It was informative and fun as usual. The fun increased when Miss Serra broke out the rum. I propose we have rum at all future meetings!

A last minute schedule change Tuesday allowed me to attend Ambassador Greymyst’s tea at the New Toulouse embassy in Winterfell Absinthe. I caught the early show. It was well attended with quite a collection of notable Steamlanders on hand, including heads of state, Miss Serra of Winterfell and Miz Gabi of New Toulouse. The conversation was quite lively and most fun. There was something ‘different’ about Miss Eili McCullough. A new hair style perhaps? I was not alone in noticing. Miss Francesca Alva opined that it must be Miss Eili’s new hat. Yes, I think that was it.

By the way, I have now confirmed a report I received earlier that Amb. Greymyst’s evening affair in Absinthe was interrupted by a Zombie attack! My, my, my. Zombies in Winterfell! Is anywhere safe?

While I was away tending to business in the first world, quite a bit of correspondence arrived here. I have been sifting through the mail as quickly as I can. The other day I discovered a letter that had been sent by my brother, Levon. He writes that he has received a satchel from Uncle Manuel containing letters from our late parents. Levon did not say what was in these letters but did say he will journey to Winterfell to deliver the satchel to me. I have not seen my brother in some time. He did visit me in Cape Wrath once shortly after I bought the property. It will be good to see Levon again. As children and as young men just starting out, we were very close. The years and our travels intervened but whenever we do reunite we pick right up again and I quite enjoy our time together. He is a good man and has a fine sense of humor. I so look forward to his visit. When he came to Wrath I was new to Winterfell and Caledon. Now I will be able to give him the grand tour and introduce him to some of my friends.

One last thought about writing… There is so much involved in writing one simple article. Finding the inspiration, putting it on paper, organizing it, rewriting it, tweaking it, tweaking it some more and some more and… I said to my editor just the other day – and she agreed with this by the way – “Maybe the great writers do ‘finish’ a piece, maybe not. I know I never do. I just ‘surrender’ at some point.” Like here.

The Rest of The Story

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No, I have not yet told you all there is to say about the closing of the Steampunk Explorer offices. Not quite.

It was a bit emotional that last day. I took down the displays in the Tamrannoch office and then left when the workers arrived to raze the building. I travelled to Babbage to see if I could lend Mr. Steampunk a hand in closing up the Academy of Industry office.

When I arrived the ground floor was empty but I heard him upstairs as he packed up his personal office. “May I come up Mr. Steampunk?” I hollered. “Of course, Mr. Chairman,” came the reply. As I entered the room he was sitting on the floor with files, drawings and maps all around him, placing each in several boxes by his side. “Just about finished, sir?” I asked, “Or can I be of help?” Mr. Steampunk looked up and tried to smile. “Would you like the desk, sir?” “Oh no, sir,” I said, “I can’t take your desk.” “But I know how you like it sir and I really have no place to put it now. Please take it or I’ll be stopping at the second hand shop to leave it behind,” he said. “Well, if you insist sir. Thank you very much. I’ll send for the delivery men. They can haul it to New Toulouse for me. I can use it at the new Jardin house. You can visit it,” I said as a joke. “I will sir,” he laughed.

He showed me some of the papers he was packing away and gave me a couple of his old reports as keepsakes. “We had good times in these offices sir,” he said. “The good times continue,” I said, “the group’s work is not over. The only difference is that now we’ll have our meeting at my pubs!” “That doesn’t sound half-bad sir,” he chuckled. “Come on. Let’s finish up and go for a pint,” I said.

We carried the boxes that were headed for the dump out the back door and stacked them up. Then passed through the empty ground floor one last time. As we walked out the front door, Boston turned and looked up at the windows where his office was. I think he was holding back a tear. I walked ahead to give him a moment.

“Are they still serving that stew at The Evergreen?” he asked as he caught up with me. “We are sir.” “Let’s go!” he said. We left Babbage by train bound for Caledon. We rode silently for a while. But then we began to reminisce about the early days of Steampunk Explorer and we recalled a number of funny stories and close calls and had quite a few laughs as the train sped along.

Once in Caledon we switched to the national line and embarked for SouthEnd. There I was to meet my cousin, Robertson Whitfield, at my Evergreen Pub. I was glad Boston was in a good mood as I did not want Robbie to walk into a virtual wake after his long journey.

When we got there we ordered two bowls of beef stew and two pints of ale and sat at the bar and wolfed that stew down. Packing up and travelling, all in one day, had built quite a hunger. Then another round of beer was ordered and the cigars were lit. “Boston, I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for me with this group,” I started. “Nonsense sir,” he said and then blew a ring of smoke. “I mean it sir. I was a novice and you gave me an opportunity,” I said. He puffed on his cigar and looked out the window. “What a damned fool I was,” he said, then he turned sharply and looked right at me and burst into laughter. I started laughing so hard I had to stand up. “More beers barkeep!” he ordered.

When the beer came Boston turned to me and raised his glass, “To the future of the new Steampunk Explorer group!” We drank. Then he spoke quietly, “I can’t thank you enough either, Mr. Chairman, for all you have done.” “Sir, you are going to have to start calling me Danko,” I said. “Nonsense!” he shouted again in a jovial fashion. “But you mustn’t start until after my cousin has left. I want him to be impressed!” I added. And the laughter – and drinking – continued.

A short time later Boston was looking out the window as we talked. “Sir, I believe your cousin is here.” Robertson was looking through the window and he smiled and waved when he saw me. We both rose and I opened the door. “Robbie!” Welcome!” We shook hands, slapped backs, traded insults and then I introduced the two men to each other. I ordered Robbie some stew and a pint and Boston sat with us for awhile as we talked about Caledon, Babbage, Winterfell and women. Well, three men in a pub – what would you expect?

When Robbie finished his meal, Boston gave his goodbyes and we walked to the train. We went up to Cape Wrath to my seaside retreat at Whitfield Point, the same land on which our great-grandfather once had a fishing camp. It was Robbie’s first visit and he gave the house and the grounds two thumbs up. We stood on the balcony and watched the fog roll in over the ocean and talked of old times. “Don’t you own another pub near here?” Robbie asked at one point. “Up in Laudanum,” I said, “it’s not far at all.” I pointed to Mr. Greymyst’s estate across the water on the Laudanum side. “Shall we?” he said. “Sure!”

We walked down to the Winterfell Embassy and Terminal in downtown Wrath where we boarded the ferry for the ride north. We got off at Laudanum and headed for The Emerald Inn. After about an hour I walked down the street to my main residence while Robbie stayed behind for a nightcap. I made up the guest room for him and then went to my room and quickly conked out. This day was the end of a chapter in my life and a memorable one at that.

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